M_POZ_02-16_APR 25-22_C2 M
1:55PM Apr 26, 2022
Today, you will hear the views and ideas of our pozcast guests. We're eager to showcase their expertise and provide a platform for their views, but they may not always reflect or align with the views of the Positive Effect, or the Map Center for Urban Health Solutions. Welcome to pozcast. We are created by and for people living with HIV. On each episode, we explore what it means to be poz. We challenge the status quo, that we share stories that matter to us. I'm James Watson, and I'm HIV positive. If you're living with HIV, listen up,
You will have taught me to be a better human is I don't want to start to cry and be a dork. But you have in a lot of ways you have taught me to really, really listen to people. And I mean, yeah, we can sit and shoot the shit and talk and joke on. But I see what you're doing. You are the champion of that you're the champion of listening to people, and helping people where you can and even where you can't, and I'm very proud to put you on my friend list.
We have a great show for you. This is pozcast.
How we talk to our friends is so different to how we communicate with anyone else. It really is a fundamental expression of who we are. Our friends, nourish us. They offers love and laughter and the support we need. The support we don't even know we need. And sometimes in spite of ourselves. No judgement. No hesitation. So today, I want to introduce the Friendship Collection. A recurring pozcast production where we preserve and showcase conversations amongst friends and hear about the impact friendship has on the everyday lives of people living with HIV.
At pozcast we know there's real value in listening to the stories of friendship and to how others connect, especially in this time of great isolation. Our goal is to strengthen and build connection throughout the HIV positive community across Canada. We can all learn from each other's love. Part one of the Friendship Collection is a conversation between three friends from Halifax, Dave Miller, Pamela Smith, and Peter Gant.
Dave lives with HIV. He's a research coordinator for Reach Nexus, and a community health educator with feeling our nation's an organization that offers support and education for indigenous people living with HIV in Atlantic Canada. Pamela has been married to Peter for five years, and co-owns and operates Jolly Tales Doggy Daycare, and describes herself as the crafty cat lady. Peter, her husband, is a self described maritime much. He's two years clean and sober and is starting his own business in the surface preparation industry. Let's listen in.
Hey, guys, I'm so happy that you guys agreed to do this pozcast with me today. I couldn't think of really anybody else that would be better suited than my two best friends and my two biggest supporters. And I mean, I guess we'll just dive right into it and my question to you is do you remember when we first met?
I remember, it was almost exactly 10 years ago. It was when I was starting the business and you came in with your partner at the time and he introduced us... friends ever since. It'd be 10 years ago next month.
Yeah. 10 years. Wow. It's you, Peter. Do you remember when we first met?
I think I might have kicked the rails out in your patio or something.
Yeah, it was that first impression it was great. I'm pretty sure your your, your boyfriend just kicked the rails off my patio.
To be fair to Peter, he did it in a loving way. And as soon as he did it, he looked at me and said was that not okay? That was not okay.
And that's probably four or five years ago. Yeah,
Yeah, it'd be almost five years ago. I want to say to you, Dave, thank you so much for inviting us to do this. Like I've gotten a little teary eyed like at least six times since we first started talking about it. And I want to ask you how it feels to have two fabulous friends like us.
Yeah, well, you are fabulous. But you know, for me having two friends like you guys, it's just easy. You know, it's one of those friendships that you know, doesn't take a lot of work. It's almost like finding your soulmate in life, you know, just everything sort of clicks into place and just know that everything is good, you support each other. And I remember, you know, Pamela, you say to me a lot back then, you know, I'm so happy that we're, we're friends. And we may not always agree on everything, but at the end of the day, we agreed to love each other and support each other that the best that we can, you know, we send a little text back and forth here and there just saying, you know, I'm just thinking about you guys today. Or, you know, I just want to say how thankful I am and so happy I am to just have you guys in my life. And Peter, you and I are the same way. And, you know, just having two friends that support you and sort of understand you and without judgment is a good feeling. You know, I have lots of friends and I have lots of acquaintances. But you know, I have very few that, you know, are close that I hold close to my heart
Unconditional love brother.
So let's talk about what we've talked about quite a few times since because it was, I think, for you and me, Dave, a super profound moment in our in our friendship was the day that you told me you're HIV positive. And that I that I had known you for, geez, four years, maybe five. At that point, it took you a while. And I want you to talk through what was going through your head when you told me that I want to tell you again, what went through mine?
Yeah, for sure. That was a rough, rough decision to make with you. Because I remember, we were sitting at my kitchen table, you were sitting under the clock, and I was sitting there right next to you. And I just said, I have something to tell you. And you're like, Okay, you know, go ahead, shoot, and I said, No, I am HIV positive. And, you know, I remember that, that feeling inside of me having to tell you that because I think I've explained this to you before, I loved you so, so much. And I could never really imagine or picture you, without you in my life. And I, I knew that there's a possibility, you know, with with disclosing that it was a 50/50 shot, either you were going to accept me and things were going to move on. Or maybe you were going to have some hesitation. And, and I was really, really, I was actually terrified. You know that there was a possibility that we wouldn't continue to be friends. And I know, you know, sort of found out afterwards that, you know, other people knew before you but you know, it was just it that that special friendship and that bond, you know, that I knew that we we have and that, you know, like I said, I just couldn't picture not having you in my life.
You know, it's funny because my recollection of when you told me and we were we were sitting on a table and you said I have something I want to tell you like, I could tell by the tone that it was something serious, but it took you so long to get it out. And I was Come on, just spit it out. And you're derailed and telling other stories and talking. I'm like, What are you trying to tell me? And I remember when I look back, I mean, it was my authentic reaction. I'm not super proud of it when I think of it. But I was mad at you. I was and I wasn't mad because you're HIV positive. My first my first reaction you was? Why didn't you tell me sooner? And I understand that now, like, in retrospect, because we've talked a lot about it since. But I went very quickly from being mad at you to I could see how difficult it was for you to tell that to me. And I felt honored. I felt trusted and honored that you did even though it took you five years. But here's here's the question that I don't think we've ever asked, Do you think I know we would all be friends regardless, but do you think without that moment, which to me, created a space, you know, for you being that vulnerable... it created a space for me to feel okay, being that vulnerable as well. But do you think our friendship would have gone as deep as it is without that moment?
Good question. I have no doubt that we wouldn't still be friends, and that we wouldn't have a great friendship. I'm pretty confident that it was, you know, without a question, we would be good friends. I don't know that I'm convinced that we would be as close as we are, and connected and trusting, because, you know, I think that's what friendship is sort of built on is honesty and without me sort of telling you that you really don't know the whole me. Right? And so I think just putting it out there, and there was no doubt you know, I guess there was a little bit of doubt about how you were going to react. But I mean over the years and growing and finding out who you are as a person and how humble you are and and how supportive you are and not just my life, but everybody's lives that you come in contact with, you know, you, you just, you're amazing. You'll get your chance to tell me about how amazing I am very shortly, but just probably wouldn't be the same. And the same with Peter also. I mean, you know, I think actually I had you tell Peter.
Yeah, you gave me the okay. I remember you said to me, does Peter know? And I said, No, of course that's not not that I thought Peter would feel any differently than I did. But I thought that's yours to tell. But yeah, that's exactly what happened. I don't know, Peter, if you remember how to how did you feel when you found out?
I don't think I've I mean, it didn't make any difference. I just didn't want him to touch anything around the house.
I don't think it made my to I mean, you know, I was sorry to hear obviously, I was sorry to hear that. It's not a gift that people want to have. But I was sorry that you ended up? I don't know what the way to say that is that you ended up being HIV positive, but I certainly loved you already. Anyway. So it didn't change anything on that level.
Yeah, I think there was a part of me that, when I tell people, or when I tell people that I know or friends that, you know, when I when I disclose and decide or if I decide to share with them that I'm HIV positive and they go "Oh, I didn't know", I'm just going, in my mind, I think really, like, you know, so I guess, you know, it's a shock to me, because I just think of the work that I do. And, you know, think you haven't googled my name? But yeah, it's just, it's just something that I, you know, I struggle with, and I think a lot of people with HIV struggle with, you know, it's just around that disclosure piece. And especially, not only with our partners, but you know, partners come and go but you know, friends, they're, they're the ones that see through all those partners coming and going. And, you know, so it's to me, it's just, it's so important, and I don't, you know, I don't have any worries around you guys about how I feel, or, you know, I just feel like you guys understand, for the most part, well, and the other part, I have a big mouth and tell you everything.
It took me a while you and I some time for me to really understand, like, there's not just, oh, Pam, I'm HIV positive, which again, like I said, that was a very profound moment. But it was also really understanding and the more we talked and getting to know you better, and you know, how you coped with that. And, you know, that's obviously something I've, I've never dealt with, you know, fortunately, but and I know that I know, people out there that are HIV positive, and probably a lot of people I don't even realize and you know, that's a whole separate, but you're the first person I've come to know, on a deep level. And I've really come to understand a lot and learn a lot. And I mean, I've told you this before, I hope you will have taught me to be a better human is different. I don't want to start to cry and be a dork. But you have in a lot of ways you have taught me to really, really listen to people. And I mean, yeah, we can sit and shoot the shit and talk and joke on. But I see what you're doing professionally, and what you do, personally, to really help people. And I understand more why you do that. And I have learned that people's stories matter, like life's not just live and let live because then you're in a silo but it it is important to really understand what people go through. And I have learned a lot about you. And I've learned a lot from you to behave in that way with other people in my life. And that's, that's important, because you are the champion of that you're the champion of listening to people, and helping people where you can and even where you can't, and I'm very proud to put you on my friend list.
Yeah, me too. I say everything that she just said, because she speaks so well.
And I know you know, what else is funny? Well, I don't know how relevant Well, it is relevant actually, for me, you know, when Peter and I were still getting to know each other at the time that when I was learning about this, and it was really important to me like I knew before Peter, but it was really important to me to see how Peter would handle that. Because, you know, obviously you're somebody that's important in my life and Peter was becoming important in my life and it would tell me a lot about him as a human and Peter handled it I don't know if I want to say better because again, it was just authentic emotion and I never judged you for it, I judged you for taking so long to tell me. But Peter was just like when I told him I said, Hey, Dave wants me to let you know something. And Peter was like, you know, shucks that, that sucks for him. Like, and truly, I don't want to make light of it, because he truly was like, that's too bad. But beyond that, I could see there was no, he wasn't like, Oh, my God, like, in any, in any concern for himself or oh, no, or, you know, that, that stigma that's around it that, you know, I know, that a lot of people deal with, I didn't see that with Peter and that, I know that that was a it was important to me. And I know that of course, that was important to you.
Yeah, very important. I mean, Peter is you know, another person that's just got one of the biggest hearts and, and really, you know, just sort of pops out with something when you least expected like, here's a rusty cast iron frying pan, because I know, you like, cast iron frying pans.
You know, just the thought or just, you know, being thought of or Yes, he's crude was creating a lot of work for me, but, you know, just that, that love being there. And just, you know, just a big heart. And, you know, I think, you know, probably early on, if not, probably, but definitely in the early on stages of my diagnos HIV was 110% of my life. And now it's 10% of my life, you know, or less, and you guys help me every day heal, and, and you guys, you know, I think works in a circle, you know, we help each other to try to be the best that we can be. And we acknowledge each other's growth over the years. And, you know, as we're getting older, you know, I think five years ago, we were talking about priority and, and having all kinds of fun. And, you know, what was it Saturday night, you guys were taking out the garbage and we were sitting in the, you know,
You're making frittatas.
You know, life gets a little bit different. And as we, you know, we're aging. Well, some of us are Pamela.
That is true.
You know it's just that that friendship is always there. And I've never doubted it. I've never worried about it. You know, we say Oh, geez, you know, I've said, you know, I feel like being a bad friend not contacting you. But I know deep down inside, we all love each other. And we all have our lives. Yeah. And you guys motivate me to, you know, to try to be a better person to like, you know, like you said, but it's that healing process for me of you know, every day is a healing journey for me to get through. And you guys are just it's just easy. Like, don't you find it easy? Yeah, too easy. Yeah.
Yeah. And you know, Davies talk about a healing process for you. But you know, the the work that you do, and the people that you're around, you're a healer. You're so you're not just healing yourself, but you're healing others. I mean, you've helped you helped me to heal, I'm not gonna cry.
I'm going to cry too.
You know what, it's true, though. I'm looking at you guys. And I'm seeing like, I have so much love for both of you guys. And I know that between the three of us, we have helped each other through so many things. And we have grown so much individually. Like I mean, you know, we all have our setbacks, and whatnot. But, and we talk about this all the time, like we are really different people in a good way. And I think all of us has so much contributed to one another. It's weird. We're like did Peter said one day, that we're three peas in a pod. And, you know, I don't know how you weaseled into this relationship of mine Dave, but here you are. But it's true. And you know what it is said here all the time. Like your family, you've got a key to our home, you don't ever need an invite, like you, are family, you're a part of our lives. And I know that you feel the same way about us.
And it's funny to say that you have a key because a lot of people have a key to other people's houses. In case you lose your keys or if I'm out of town or something but you know that you can come in here at two o'clock in the morning, if you want without calling or knocking or whatever you can just come in. That's the kind of key that you have do our home and watch us sleep. Right, that's, you know, that's the kind of friend you are and that's the kind of key that you have to our to your home you know.
And I'd give you the key to my home to if I had one...If I wasn't homeless right now and going through another break up that you guys are getting all the gory details on. No, I appreciate that. And was there ever a time when you didn't like me?
Oh gosh. No, you know what Dave, you know, there was a moment and you know this when you're going through that significant breakup. And you know, maybe your head wasn't entirely screwed on. I remember there was a moment, and I never ever, ever didn't like you. And I never ever was concerned for myself. But I remember there was a moment going, he's losing his marbles, and I am really scared for him. I was concerned about your decision making. But at no point, I mean, at that time, you're you're living in my home. And you know, I again, I didn't, I didn't want that word living and you're staying in my home. I wasn't one iota worried or for me or disliked you. But I remember thinking he is crazy.
Men make you do crazy things.
And that's me. That's the truth of it, too. But again, I mean, you know, again, that's kind of goes back to this vulnerability that you showed Peter and I, when you're dealing with that, and there is nothing for me personally, and I think a lot of people would would agree with this. There is nothing that makes me feel safer to open up to somebody, then when somebody feels safe to open up to me. And that's, you know, when I asked had asked before, do you think our friends would be the same level? I don't think so. Just because I don't know that I would have taken that cue from you. And I don't know that, like, we've had some pretty, all of us pretty deep, intense conversations, that that probably opened a lot of wounds and, but helped to heal them as well. And that's powerful. I mean, and maybe it's part of aging, because, you know, I wasn't looking for that in my 20s. Like, I didn't need somebody to sit and go over all the trauma in my life with but as we get older, I think that having that trust, and that safe place, there's not really much more important than that. And that's both you and and don't both Dave and Peter, like you guys are both a safe place for me. And I means It means a lot.
You guys are both so humble. And you know, I mean, just how powerful and how you influence others without even a thought or, you know, without looking for anything to come back to you. Or, you know, and I think for me that that's a big thing. You know, there's a lot of people out there that do good things, and expect recognition for doing good things. And you guys are not those people, you know, and I like to think I'm that person to just to just to be nice to people and love people. I mean, I'm lucky also that you guys have also brought me into your families like the relationship. You know, Peter that I have with your mom and Pam with your mom and I don't even know how it happened. It just it just all happened. But there's not a day that goes by and I tell you this, Pamela you know this, I I'm so thankful I have you in my life. And I never take that for granted. And Peter the same. The same goes for you too.
Well, do you guys think? So? Do you think we'll ever lose touch with each other?
No, no, no, no, we won't no. I mean, it doesn't matter if it where life takes us. I know in my heart we're not going to be the people that lose touch. I mean, there might be a week that goes by that we don't talk like there is no life gets busy. But no, you will always always have again, I'm gonna be cheesy, but you have a home in my heart always. Always.
Yeah. I mean, we're not just friends. You know Dave.
That's right, we're not just friends.
Like I think one of us had have to go to a different dimension to be able to not really talk anymore. And then even still, we'd still find a way to bug you.
Dave was there ever a time that you didn't like either of us?
No, not not that I that I didn't like you there were there were times that I didn't. Not that I didn't like you but I didn't know how you were gonna react. I didn't know. You know, I knew that you were somebody that that that I wanted to get to know. And Peter you too because you were you know you were with Pam and but there was never a time when I said I don't like you or you know I can't see me wanting to get to know you better no. I don't know if I've ever told you this but I take so much away from our friendship I almost feel guilty sometimes. In what you guys just in how you just, you know, just a little hug or, or you know, like I come to you guys for some pretty, you know, looking for some good advice on where to go. And for me to do that, because I can sit myself a very strong person and somebody that I like to think that I know everything I don't. So, in my heart when I come to you and ask you, what do you think I should do? And you tell me I really listened to that. Yeah. And also to have it turns out the wrong way...somebody to blame. You know, but it's just it's just, it's almost undescribable you're just there and you're just, I don't know, sound sappy, right. Oh, I love you, and you love me. And but it's, it's real. Like, it's so real.
I think too. It does sound sappy. But and I think people are very fortunate if if they get to experience it. And I think not a lot of people do. But what the experience is, is just that thorough, implicit trust that someone is there for you, and they have your best interest at heart and they love you. And at your best, and at your worst. They're not trying to get anything out of you. They're not trying to the I think that's rare. And I mean, I think I'm in my early 40s. I think that being able to even you know, when people talk about friends, like I think you're lucky. If you can count two or three, you're lucky if you can count one, really good friend. I mean, you know if you can count two or three at that age, and when I when I'm talking friendships that are level, I think those are few and far between.
I remember just to just reminded me of something really quick. I remember when I was going through a breakup a few years back, and I was sitting, we were all sitting there was you, Peter and I were sitting there on Peter's couch. And it just went, I'm so lucky. Or I said, God, I said I have three friends. And one of them's your mother.
You're crying to me. Your life was falling apart. And you said, Pam, I'm 43 years old and I have three friends. One's your boyfriend one's your mom. So you better be nice to me then.
Where's my life going? One of them's your boyfriend one of them's your mother. I love you guys so much. And I couldn't you know when James was mulling around the idea of you know, the topic for this this pozcast I because what do you think about this? I said, it's great. And I want to do it. And I know I have two friends that would love to do it too. And I remember when I was at your guys's house and said, Hey, do you want to do this and you're like, Oh, I'm getting teary-eyed, I just thought it would be great to do this.
So let's do this This or That questions? Peter. You're up first. This or that, overly optimistic or overly pessimistic?
I think I'm a realist. I can look at things very pessimistically if that's a word to try to avoid the bad things to happen. So in that sense, yes, I'm overly positive I'm optimistic
Awesome. Camping or glamping?
I'd have to say I go for the glamping I'm not I don't think I'd like to sleep out on the ground with the bugs crawling on me and stuff so yeah glamping would be good. I know Pam will be happy to hear that
Cooking or being cooked for?
I love to be cooked for I like to cook but I love if somebody makes I love when foods made for me so yeah being cooked for is fantastic.
Lose sleep or skip a meal?
I'd lose sleep.
Rich friend or loyal friend?
A loyal friend. For sure for sure for sure you got no money Dave. No, a loyal friend.
All right Pamela you ready?
You're asking me?
Overly optimistic or overly pessimistic?
Camping or glamping?
Cooking or being cooked for?
You know what, a couple of years ago it would have been a hands down being cooked for but who have I become I'm gonna go with cooking now. I am gonna go with cooking
Lucky for Peter.
My husband is happy with that. He just like you know, but please next time cook the chicken cook the potato. You guys have all been victims.
Lose sleep or skip a meal?
Skip a meal. I like to get my sleep. I don't function without my sleep.
You do you go to bed early and You're up early.
I like my sleep. I'm a good sleeper and I have worked very hard to be a good sleeper.
Rich friend or loyal friend?
Loyal friend. I've have two of them right here.
All right. Well, you guys can ask me.
Peter, would you like to do the honors?
I'll go for I'll go with the question number one overly optimistic or overly pessimistic?
You go for number two Pam.
Okay, camping or glamping?
Cooking or being cooked for?
Cooking. I haven't found anyone to cook for me yet.
No one that's up to your standards anyway. What did you say I have to interject with that time you said to me something. Peter was making his pea soup or something. And you said to me, and I said, all I love when Peter cooks for me, and I was just kind of trying to learn to cook and you said, I quote this. You know, I understand why you think this, but you said Peter's not really a good cook. But I get why you think so? Because you're a terrible cook.
I know why you think Peter is a good cook, because you're a shitty cook. Those are the exact words.
Yes. I love the honesty. lose sleep or skip a meal?
Peter, last one.
I know you want a loyal friend.
I do. I want to rich loyal friend.
Can I ask you one last question before we move? Dave? Has it gotten easier for you over the years to tell people you care about people like like, like when you disclose to us...Has it gotten easier for you know, to tell?
No, it hasn't. And again, it's that fear. And I don't know where it comes from? You know, I mean, I disclose on a daily basis just in the work that I do. You know, but that's in a workplace environment. Yeah. Disclosure is just one of those things. I never know where my emotions are gonna take me sometimes I'm like, Hey, I live with HIV. Sometimes I break down and I can't even get it out. But again, it's just that fear. And I, you know, I think you know, this, you know, like we said, it's a crapshoot sometimes. And, you know, as much work that we do around stigma, discrimination around HIV, you can't make somebody believe something, and you cannot make them feel the way that they're gonna feel that they're feeling so you take that risk?
Can I add something here? I think, like my own opinion, I think it's probably because there's, like, still a real lack of education, about behind all that. And there's a big stigma to it. So I can undo, I mean, I can empathize on how you feel about that, because you don't know how people are going to. Because you know, people still think that you could, you could become positive by shaking your hand or something, you know, like it, there still is a real lack of education and what you're doing out there, you know, you're not only helping people that live with it, but you're helping people that don't understand what's going on a little bit better, too.
And I think for me, it you guys just make that easier, because I don't have to, I don't have to do it. I don't have to sell myself, I don't have to educate somebody constantly around, you know, HIV, like, Hi, I'm Dave, I'm HIV positive. But you know, let me tell you this. You know, you guys are in my heart. And that's, I think that's probably why I have you know, I'm not gonna say so few friends. I mean, I have lots of friends. But, you know, friends that I just, everything is there. It's all out on the table. And there's just never any question. And I thank you guys so much for taking time out of your you guys are both busy people. And this means it means so much to me. You know, I couldn't I couldn't think you know, like leading up to this. I'm like, I gotta go over these questions. And I gotta look at this. We don't have to do that with you. It just, this is our everyday life. This is how we talk to each other on a regular basis. And so I'm happy that we were able to share it on the pozcast.
I'm so proud to have you as a friend. I always am. I'm always proud of my friend Dave and the work that he does, and his charisma, and how funny and kind and charming he is Dave I am fortunate and proud and I love you.
I love you to.
I love you to Dave.
I love you too. Alright, that's it, guys.
I want to thank Pam and Peter and Dave, for recording our very first Friendship Collection Part One. If you want to contribute, please contact me at email@example.com as pozcasts and number four the letter u @gmail.com If you want to contribute your friendship story. Thanks for tuning in. We hope you'll join us next time on pozcast.
Pozcast is produced by the Positive Effect, which is brought to you by Reach Nexus at the Map Center for Urban Health Solutions. The Positive Effect is a facts based lived experience movement powered by people living with HIV. I can be visited online at positiveeffect.org. Technical production provided by David Grein of the Acme podcasting company In Toronto.